EDMONTON, AB, Sep 18, 2012/ Troy Media/ – Lost in the stories about the politics of energy in Ontario is the simple fact that Ontario is installing the equivalent of a nuclear power plant worth of renewable energy.
According to the Ontario Power Authority Ontario already has 4,125 MW of renewable energy projects operating and 6,255 MW under development thanks to the feed-in tariff (FIT) program.
For perspective Alberta has only 967 MW of wind power and comparatively very little hydro, biomass or solar.
‘If you drive around the province you see the evidence of the energy strategy in front of you. You see farmers that have ground-mount solar systems on their land, you see wind turbines and wind farms everywhere. It’s clearly visible compared to five years ago,’ said Tyler Hamilton editor of Corporate Knights magazine and a Toronto Star columnist.
Ontario has two scales of projects involved in the FIT program. FIT projects involve systems larger than 10 kW and micro-FIT involves projects smaller than 10 kW. A solar PV system for a home is typically between five and 10 kW.
The number of applications is staggering. A total of 1,968 FIT contracts totalling 4,620 MW were issued. And of 9,898 contracts in total, 86 MW were issued for small solar, wind, bioenergy and hydro projects under the microFIT program by the end of 2011.
The Ontario government also decided to get rid of coal-fired power plants in Ontario. Since 2003, 10 of 19 coal generation units have been shut down and coal use has been cut by 90 per cent.
Back in 2008 ‘Premier (Dalton) McGuinty said ‘I think we can do more with renewables and conservation,” said George Smitherman, former energy minister, who interpreted this as his marching orders to come up with new alternatives for energy in Ontario.
‘I took a look at Europe for the feed-in-tariff and California for good energy conservation policies and brought forward the Green Energy Act,’ he added.
The way it works is, everybody with an electricity bill pays a bit more every month so that renewable energy systems can get established.
Put another way, electric utilities are obligated to buy renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass, hydro etc.) at rates that cover costs and include a fair return on investment.
The pace of change has been blistering and this has certainly brought with it some headaches. But then again the current electricity system was built with a hodge-podge of subsidies, technologies and players that created a system in Ontario that was dominated by nuclear and coal energy.
Ontario’s feed-in tariff gets individuals, businesses and community groups involved in renewable energy. It creates cost certainty and allows diverse investors to more safely invest in building new energy infrastructure.
While it’s easy to blame rising electricity prices on the FIT, Ontario had a system where prices would be going up regardless. Ontario’s generation fleet needs to be replaced and it costs money to replace it whether it’s coal-fired, nuclear or renewables.
Beach Solar Laundromat on Queen Street in Toronto gets its power from Solar Modules and Bullfrog Power and has a very small carbon footprint for a Laundromat. Photo by David Dodge, Troy Media
Now, as with any complex, entrenched system with many stakeholders, the rapid change brought on by the Green Energy Act has brought some backlash. Mostly, anti-wind protesters have focused on large, corporately owned wind projects in rural Ontario.
In response the federal government recently announced a study that will look at the health effects of wind energy.
But Dr. David Colby, – the Chatham-Kent acting medical officer of health, in an area of the country that has some very vocal anti-wind advocates – has reviewed 17 different studies on the health effects wind turbine noise. He has also testified internationally that he does not believe they cause any harm.
‘You can’t prove a negative hypothesis,” Colby told Postmedia. “You can’t prove there are no ghosts.”
Environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe says in her blog ‘Health Canada’s wind turbine health study is doomed to irrelevance, because it is largely based on asking people whether they are annoyed about wind turbines.’
Like most things the question of whether you are ‘annoyed’ by wind turbines comes down to money. In a Massachusetts study (page 27) on wind and health effects people who were financially benefiting from wind turbines experienced ‘virtually no annoyance regardless of whether those people could see or hear a turbine.’
There is no question there are places wind turbines should not be built and some folks are very annoyed by wind turbines, but on the flipside the Green Energy Act has involved more than 10,000 people and organizations in building new green energy infrastructure in Ontario.
Troy Media columnist David Dodge is the host and producer of Green Energy Futures, a multi-media series presented at www.greenenergyfutures.ca. The series is supported by TD, Suncor Energy and the Pembina Institute.
The Green Revolution
Troy Media columnist David Dodge shares stories of green energy pioneers who are doing incredible things just below the radar of the conventional media. Together, these pioneers are ...
You kick it in the groin 'til it moves no more. Do not go near this, ever. Check out all the jurisdictions that are deep into the "Green" hot tub. Like Ont, Calif. European countries and others, they're impoverishing their citizens with soaring electricity costs. The term " Energy poverty " was unknown 5 years ago, yet more and more people are experiencing stark choices for their households. Truth is Wind turbines with their grotesque visual imprint do nothing to mitigate CO2 (plant food), which is the supposed selling feature of this form of generation. It is a scam of the highest order to the emmense benefit financially of a few while they cloak themselves in robes of green.
@PaulKuster this is an absolutely ridiculous statement. European countries have increased their targets for renewable energy - eg. Germany (now a target of 45% by 2030) Japan & France in just the last week announed a shift away from nuclear towards renewable energy, which is now both cheaper and cleaner.
Since when do you honestly believe ANY gov't to honour "targets" for anything so far into the future knowing full well they won't be around to answer for them. They just suck in the greenwashed gullible eco-zombies into going along with them. Europe is now starting to run away from this criminal crime against humanity as fast as they can now, because thier political careers don't rely on the environmental lobby any more.
@fridgeconcerns@PaulKuster "Clean" energy? Is made from fossil fuels. Materials are mined by fossil fuels, manufactured using fossil fuels, transported using fossil fuels, installed and maintained...all thanks to fossil fuels...then they have to be backed-up by ...fossil fuels. TAXPAYERS are dumping money (without their permission) into subsidies while big time investors like Branson get rich off 'climate wealth'.
The perception isn't the reality here in Canada. In the province of Ontario and elsewhere the wind industry IS the fossil fuel industry. Suncor, Epcor, TransAlta and Enbridge are all big players in the Ontario wind industry, and they are all involved in either tar sands production, coal generated electricity or natural gas and oil pipelines. Every subsidised dollar of profit that these corporations recieve from wind energy is just another dollar to put towards intensive capital expenditures for fossil fuel extraction. Wind energy is just a bonus revenue stream for these fossil fuel corporations, courtesy of the suckers of Ontario. How does subsisising these corporations help the environment?
Sounds more to me that you're sporting the tin foil hat here. Just show me the cancelled cheques I've cashed from said groups , or go off to a corner, quivering as you watch this house of cards starting to tumble down around you. The Big Wind lobby is unspooling , looking like a diagram of the corporate structure at IBM.
@PaulKuster no they really aren't. How many crazy sounding conspiracies can you cram into one post? you are worried about the environmental lobby when fossil fuel billionaires Koch Industries & Exxon, as well as the massive nuclear industry do everything possibly to try to stop the inevitable transition to clean energy.
Oil and coal companies are dumping money into the anti-wind movement.
Wow, LauraGriffin - that is a load of total anti-wind nonsense. You cannot tear down any peer reviewed study just because it undermines your hysterical claims. That review is based on the results of epidemiological studies.
Normal, intelligent people should stay far away from unhinged Anti-wind groups which call for studies, but refuse to accept the results of dozens of existing ones.
Bottom line, no quality (peer-reviewed ) study has ever found any link between wind power and health. And there have been many.
@fridgeconcernsAll 4 of the health studies in the Massachusetts literarure review were based on mail-in surveys .
None of these studies took physical measurements from residents, such as blood pressure. Nor did they conduct face-to-face interviews, take noise measurements inside and outside of some homes to validate sound modelling like the proposed health Canada study will.
@fridgeconcerns First of all, M, we all know that you make money on the wind industry, so you're hardly unbiased.
Secondly, I dare you to provide one single review that was based on epidemiological studies. There is none. You know it and I know it. Every single report out there that claims there are no ill health effects are just a regurgitation of the same old reports that have been circulating for years and years.
You are unable to provide an epidemiological study because it's never been done. That's what the Health Canada study is aiming for.
Even the Ontario Chief Medical Officer, Arlene King, based her report on peer reviewed studies. That's why she's refusing to testify at a court hearing about her findings, in spite of the fact that she's been subpoenaed.
There has never been an epidemilogical health study done on wind turbines and human health I challenge anyone to prove me wrong and no links to mail in surveys and literature reviews I want to see an actual epidemilogical health study.
Anyone who cites the Massachusetts health study is someone who clearly didn't read it and who should not be taken seriously. That 'study' is a complete farce.
In the entire 163 page report, nowhere does it state that they spoke directly to anyone who lives or has lived near a wind turbine and had their lives profoundly impacted by an IWT. Neither did they conduct any medical tests on those living near wind turbines or study anyone's medical records.
Per the report: “In conducting their evaluation, the Panel conducted an extensive literature review of the scientific literature as well as other reports, popular media, and the public comments received by the MassDEP.”
So they relied almost entirely on pre-existing data and literature AND popular media!! Now that’s what I call an extensive, independent review!!!
Did they consider ALL other data presented to them, in an unbiased and fair manner?
“In all cases, data quality was considered; at times, some studies were rejected because of lack of rigor or the interpretations were inconsistent with the scientific evidence.”
So in other words, if the data presented to them, did not fall under previously accepted scientific conclusions, then it was tossed. How thorough!
They cite the work done by Dr. Nina Pierpont, who has spent years studying and working directly with people living near wind turbines and experiencing ill health effects. She has documented hundreds of cases and written several articles and publications highlighting her findings.
This illustrious group of PHD’s conclude however, that she proves no causal link between those ill health effects and living near wind turbines. They also seem to take offense at the fact that Dr. Pierpont, in order to study the effects of wind turbines, sought out the victims thusly:
“The most critical problem with respect to inferring causality from Pierpont’s findings lies in how the families were identified for participation. To be included in the study, among other criteria, at least one family member had to have severe symptoms and reside near a wind turbine.”
Shame on her!!! Conducting research on the effects of wind turbines by ACTUALLY speaking to people who LIVE near a turbine and are experiencing symptoms.
Being the enlightened academics that they are, they go on to base THEIR extensive research findings, not by speaking directly to wind victims, but rather on things like this:
“There is limited evidence”
“There is insufficient evidence”
“There is insufficient evidence that the noise from wind turbines is directly causing health problems”
“None of the limited epidemiological evidence reviewed suggests an association between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and headache/migraine.”
“There is limited scientific evidence of an association between annoyance from prolonged shadow flicker and potential transitory cognitive and physical health effects.”
Of course there’s limited evidence. Because no one, not once, in any of the government funded studies that we’ve found, has EVER gone out and spoken directly to people living near industrial wind installations, or done health evaluations, looked at medical records, etc. They ALL rely on “previous studies”, which pretty much followed the same in-depth procedures that these people did.
However, they did conclude ONE possible ill health effect of being too close to a wind turbine!!!
“There is sufficient evidence that falling ice is physically harmful and measures should be taken to ensure that the public is not likely to encounter such ice.”
I know. I'm speechless too!
Meanwhile, Germany is building 23 new coal plants to prop up their unreliable, inefficient wind and solar power.
This is all stuff that the news media in Canada doesn't want us to hear about, ESPECIALLY in Ontario. The Green Energy Act is a monumental financial and environmental failure. The government needs to accept that it was a mistake and put the brakes on this fiasco. AND the media needs to stop promoting the GEA as if it is the be-all-and-end-all of our energy future. It's NOT.
The research in this article reminds me of a grade school experiment called the Gossip Factor.
It starts with a chain of students where the first student whispers a story to the next student who whispers it to the next student and so on, until the end of the chain is reached. The interesting result is how much the story invariably changes at the end of the chain.
Has something similar happened with David Dodge's research on how money and annoyance to wind turbines are linked? Mr. Dodge is basing his conclusion on the literature review on wind issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The literature review contains conclusions based on four mail-in health surveys including one titled " Project WINDFARM Perception" by Van den Berg, Pedersen. This survey does note that farmers who had wind turbines had lower levels of annoyance than those without wind turbines but the reasons for this had nothing to do with money.
Here is a quote from the Van den Berg/Pederson survey:"Respondents that benefit will more usually have control: most or all of them have taken part in the decision to put up the turbines and they can stop them if they want. One respondent remarked that if a turbine close by caused too much noise for him or his neighbour, he stopped the turbine."
In the Netherlands farmers commonly own and operate their own wind turbines, whereas in Ontario they are owned by multinationals which remotely operate them from controlrooms in Texas.
In the Netherlands rural people still have control over the environment they live in. Unfortunately Ontario chose a corporate development model for its wind turbine program, and any form of local control was also removed with the Green Energy Act. This is why there is a rural revolt against wind turbines in rural Ontario.
So I will put this question to David Dodge: Is he making conclusions on first hand knowledge or observations from sources that have gone through the Gossip Factor?
If you really want to resolve the entire Green Energy Question of Costs - Ask any politician the true cost (stripping subsidies of all stripes) from ALL forms of energy, Nuclear, Gas, Wind, Solar, Biogas. Once we know all the "TRUE" costs let the market decide. Right now as much as all you ANTI-Green energy people love to take swipes at the cost it's time to pony up and see what's really behind that energy curtain. Nuclear as an example is expensive to build, has unmeasured cost over runs, doesnt factor in decommissioning costs or even insurance, not to mention the cost of waste disposal. If you REALLY think that nuclear and natural gas is cheapest you need to get your head out of the sand.
So you support subsidising the oil and nuclear industry? I think it's outrageous that taxpayers are expected to give their hardearned dollars to corporate welfare bums. Can anyone explain why tarsands corporations like Suncor need our taxdollars?
A brief summary of how the FIT program works in Ontario 1)you're a rich fossil fuel corporation or multinational looking to make more money. 2)you get a contract from the OPA and install wind turbines 3)the Ontario government will steal the money on your behalf from low and fixed income ratepayers 4)wait for the cheques to come every month and marvel at how easy it was Note: do not apply for this program if your corporation has a social conscience..
@DanWrightman@transparentnrgcosts Corporate welfare bums. That's rich. Those bums that employ 1 in 4 Canucks directly? 1 in 9 indirectly? Yeah, bunch a bums. Those guys who slogged around in the bush in minus 40 and plus 35 with black flies and mosquites trying to turn that tar sands into something useful. Yeah. Bums. Let me explain that some companies were able and willing to take risks, post venture capital, develop successful processes, employ vast numbers of taxpaying people, buy lots of different products and services, go to global markets and raise billions in capital based on their dog and pony shows, and that's why those corporate BUMS get any consideration at all from the gov't. They pay their way. They create the means for everyone else to get hard-earned cash. Bunch a bums.
Sure- lets remove all subsidies for everyone. Just remember, you have to have back-up generation for when the wind doesn't blow or the sun isn't shining (25%- 30% of nameplate ). So be sure that when you calculate cost/ kw for solar and wind ,you add in equal kw costs for back-up, be it gas, coal, nuclear, hydro-electric or gerbils.